Golf Gazette/Jay Dempsey: Golf camp at Island’s End is all about fun

What comes to mind when you think of summer camp? Perhaps a bugler’s wake-up call? A noise-filled dining hall? Canoeing, softball games, bonfires, roasting marshmallows? Having a crush on a counselor? Whispered cabin conversations after lights-out?

They are all part of a summer camp experience.

This summer, a camp in Greenport offered none of the above. (Well, except maybe the crush on the counselor part.)

Youngsters whose ages ranged from 5 years to the mid-teens attended the camp, which was held one afternoon each week for eight weeks. Some had the necessary camp equipment while others used hand-me-downs supplied by the camp. A few were experienced, others first-timers.

Island’s End Golf and Country Club was the site of a popular summer camp offering golf instruction to many local children as well as some visiting players from the tri-state area.

JAY DEMPSEY PHOTO | Instructors Ed Burfeindt, left, and Bill Fish, right, with happy campers at Island's End Golf and Country Club.

Club professionals Bill Fish and Ed Burfeindt provided patient and friendly instruction to this enthusiastic group of Bubba Watson and Paula Creamer wanna-bees. I attended a recent camp session and came away smiling from ear to ear.

The campers were most entertaining and fun to listen to. Some comments overheard were: “Why do I keep missing the ball?” “Hey Mom, watch this.” One golfer, after a half-dozen wiffs, finally made contact and said, “There ya go.”

Ed Burfeindt said this about his role as instructor: “My favorite part is seeing the smile the first time the ball gets in the air. It’s important to catch the kids early so they learn the proper basics. These kids are the true future of the game. Our goal is to get them started in the right direction and have fun in the process.”

Seven-year-old Tyler Gulluscio of Shelter Island, a three-year veteran of the game, said the best thing about golf is hitting the ball far and hitting the clown, referring to the plastic blow-up clowns used as targets on the driving range.

Christina Bellero, 14, of Melville, said: “I’m taking lessons to become a better golfer. This summer I’ve learned to stay aligned and move closer to the ball.”

Amanda Todd, 7, of East Marion and New Jersey, was taking her first lesson with her prior golfing experience consisting of a few rounds of miniature golf. For a first-timer, Amanda was amazing, making excellent contact with the ball. Marveling at her athleticism, I went on to learn that Amanda happens to be the New Jersey State karate champion in her age group.

You don’t mess with Amanda.

Bridget Forstl, 10, of New Canaan, Conn., was taking her first lesson. “I learned how to hold the club,” she said. But the best she saved for last. I asked Bridget what she liked about playing golf. She answered, “It’s fun.”

And Bridget, that’s what it’s all about.

“It’s great to see the kids return each year and do more things with the golf ball,” Bill Fish said. “Juniors that first hit the ball only a few yards years ago find themselves reaching distances they once thought unattainable.”

Fish concluded by saying, “It’s fun for all of us who are involved, especially the parents and the students.”

TEE TIMES The 13th hole at Cherry Creek Golf Links hasn’t been unlucky for Margaret Pawlowski, Matthew Michel and Jim Ahrens. Vince Scheraldi reported that the trio all aced the 13th hole at the Riverhead course. Henry Stasiukiewicz called in to report that Stuart Rock made a hole-in-one at Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue. By the way, the next time you’re at Cedars, ask Henry about the book he’s writing.

19TH HOLE Legendary golfer Lee Trevino had this to say about golf instruction: “When you have a leaky roof there are some contractors out there who will want to tear the whole roof off rather than finding the problem and fixing it.”

UPCOMING OUTINGS The L.I. Veterans 2011 Team Jesse Golf Tournament will be held Monday, Sept. 12, at Cherry Creek Golf Links in Riverhead. Proceeds provide education and support for families of fallen soldiers. Contact Jim Nohe at (631) 732-8419.
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